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Thread: The coolest thing about CNC

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    The coolest thing about CNC

    I know we are woodworking site but something that many of you might not be aware of is the incredible benefits of CNC in the art of plastic or metal injection molding process. This similar kind of thing is done in the carving world where some places may use a cnc carver to reproduce a hand carved item and then finish in some cases by hand in others taking the carving all the way through to finish.

    Anyhow I was fortunate many years ago to be involved in having an entire payphone outer housing manufactured using die casting process. We did the whole thing using CAD and wanted to take the project direct from CAD through to manufacturing the molds etc to evaluate the benefits of this technology on the design process and productivity back in early 90`s.

    This software (mold flow analysis ) makes it possible to evaluate a design and its future tooling prior to even cutting metal to make the tool. Its incredible what it manages to do to the process. By the way for interest sake we took our design from SA through to an small company in Italy and had the molds made there using a cad cam process. The detail and quality of castings we were able to achieve and i am going back many years was amazing.

    Check out this video to give you an idea of the benefits of this technology.

    There is a bitter sweet aspect to this kind of technology. On the one hand it has improved mold making efficiency and on the other taken the hand craft skill out of it. One shop or vendor that i used to work with for our tooling in plastic prior to this time used to take on at least 10 to 12 apprentices each year and truly train them to be real toolmakers. By real i mean these guys ended up as craftsman even more like artists when you saw them hand file finishing touches and polish tools. That is if they lasted the full apprenticeship with them. They were very strict but their quality of tooling was amazing.

    Now its all done by machines and that skill is going by the way. Its kinda like the guys designing printed circuit boards using CAD but not knowing a thing about the layout from an analog signals point of view. Maybe i am just getting old. I believe in the hi tech approach but i believe there should be proper training prior to using it. Not just an operator level where if in event you dont succeed just keep bashing away and by default you may get there.

    Still to contradict myself i would not like to think about cutting a bunch of box joints by hand as opposed to using a Ibox jig. And thats not even CNC.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    East Freeetown, Massachusetts
    Rob, That was a great post.

    I have worked in the metal cutting industry since 1977. Before that My dad had a machine shop in our house since a kid - early 60's. I could make parts on a metal lathe when I was a teen, and I know what a horizontal miller was when I was like 12 years old.

    I am "from" the OLD school.

    BUT - I continued in education and graduated.

    For me - either side of the fence is quite all-right, BUT, I prefer the new side.

    NOW - I am very very techie at what I do.

    I use Solidworks and I program machines up to about 16 axis - both by hand programming and by CAM.

    I have been in charge of cutting tools, and production machines in manufacturing since 1987.

    I have watched the old - go away and the new come in. Many of the times I have personally moved the old out and moved the new in.

    When I worked at Winchester in the early 90's I transitioned our cutter grinding from a manual cutter grinding operation to a CNC cutter grinding operation. In business you really want the best "for the company". What you find out REALLY FAST is the quality of the work. The CNC by FAR is a superior quality even over the most highly qualified cutter grinder person. I have know some extremely highly qualified cutter grinders. I also new very well the manager of engineering for Clevland Twist Drill.

    In bringing in a high technology operation, yes the older guys that cannot learn the new stuff are in a difficult situation, but there is a new opportunity and new skill sets to be learned.

    EVEN though - CNC - is a computerized technology - it is most certainly a skill set to me mastered. NOT anybody - and certainly NOT everybody can be proficient at it. Just the same as in th eolder ways of processing a job. There is a skill set to it.

    The CNC work is of a higher quality than that of a manual operation.

    ************************************************** **************************

    On another note - the artistic side of CNC is challanging as well.

    There is NO WAY --- (well - if I had a 5 axis machine and sophisticated CAM, I could) --- a common 3 axis home hobby shop CNC router can do the carvings that Toni does, like the leaves, of the zipper pants. BUT - I can get 90% of the way there. I asked Toni if I could do the leaves - SOME DAY - he said I could. Here is the difference - mine will need to be designed in CAD - much like you show above. There is a skill level there, that requires experience. That does not happen with a first year student. Then there is the programming of the job, tool selection, feeds and speeds. Also not a first year student. After the initial CNC work, then there is some significant hand carving to get "under" many areas to give the illusion of leaves on top of another. Yes - the hand work is dramatically minimized - but there is still skills needed - and it is not robotic.

    There is a LOT of untapped creativity to CNC.

    Many people thing of the CNC made cabinets as the only thing CNC can do. BUT - there is MORE to the story - much more.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Melbourne, FL
    My Dentist uses a machine like that to drill 16 teeth at a time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Simmons View Post
    My Dentist uses a machine like that to drill 16 teeth at a time.
    That's easily done with my teeth (while I sit in the waiting room I might add!).

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Billings Missouri near Springfield Mo
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Shively View Post
    That's easily done with my teeth (while I sit in the waiting room I might add!).
    Smarty Pants
    A Turn N Time
    Components for John Smith Organs and the Hobby Organ Builder

    Frog Pond Guitars

    Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

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